Are Individual Budgets Really Mine?
Author: Simon Duffy
Simon Duffy argues that individual budgets are provided as additional income which is provided to people in order that they can meet their needs. There are at least two important reasons why it is a mistake for local authorities to try and stop people pooling this income with their other resources.
An argument from means-testing
As the law stands local authorities are able to means-test disabled people and they are only obliged to provide any additional funding to help people meet qualifying levels of need. Means-testing already therefore presumes that citizens are under an obligation to meet their own needs with their own resources, and therefore it can be presumed that the individual budget is just one of many means that the individual has for meeting those needs.
An argument for enabling discretion
The efficiency of individual budgets arises precisely because it can be used on anything that helps someone successfully meet their needs. There can be no prior assumption that any particular form of expenditure is unsuitable and support plans should not restrict how people spend their money. Support plans provide initial information to validate the competence of the individual or the individual budget manager to manage the individual budget effectively. However, if the support plan or any general restrictions are used to fetter the discretion of the individual budget holder then the local authority would be guilty of placing unnecessary burdens on the person, and reducing their ability to meet their own needs in the most effective way possible. This could be unlawful, and it is certainly inefficient.
In summary individual budget holders should not only be enabled to pool financial and non-financial resources; they are obliged to pool those resources. It is therefore incumbent upon local authorities to support, rather than frustrate, their responsibilities as citizens.
[For the avoidance of confusion the term individual budget here is used to include personal budgets, personal health budgets etc.]
The publisher is The Centre for Welfare Reform.
Are Individual Budgets Really Mine? © Simon Duffy 2010.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.